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1977 BMW R75/7

Around Town

Classic Velocity

The /7 is pressed into service as errand runner and commuter. It takes a little while to warm up, but once there it handles the streets with ease. The luggage capacity certainly helps.

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A Good Soaking

Classic Velocity

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It has been a long time since I have gotten really and truly soaked while riding a motorcycle. Years in fact. It happened now and then back when I had no rain gear and had to press on in the rain. The topic is also no stranger to these pages (see Rain , Squandering the Attention Budget , and The Rain Machine). But this was different. I have plenty of rain gear. Good stuff, too. I have jacket liners and a full set of Frog Togs and rain covers for the tank bag, and even a set of rain gloves. But on this day, I had none of them.

It was a beautiful sunny morning on the /7 with a few puffy clouds here and there. It was the best part of what was to be a hot and humid summer day. I enjoyed the cooler morning air and the curvy undulating unoccupied country roads. After a while, I stopped to grab coffee. While inside, a trio of joggers came in dripping wet. I went outside to see a glistening parking lot, puddles of water, and a soaking wet bike. This had been no light sprinkle. The rain squall had already moved on, and the sun had never stopped shining. I looked up to see a single light grey cloud amid the azure and cotton ball sky. I checked my weather radar app. Nothing. There were no visible signs of rain in any compass direction. Strange, I thought.  I wiped off the seat, shook the remaining water off the soaked tank bag, put on my mesh jacket, helmet, gloves, and headed toward home in the opposite direction to the light grey cloud. 

I was on the lookout for a fast moving grey cloud. I rounded one of my favorite long sweepers, and a few splats hit the windshield. Big wet splats as if they came from raindrops in some land of the giants out of all proportion to planet earth. Before I could even fully assess my options, there was a torrent of splats. A full downpour while in full sun and with good visibility. The visor fogged, and I was soaked within half a minute. There were no options for shelter anyway, so the choices were to stop and stand in the open to get further soaked, or ride on to get further soaked. I took my mostly wet leather gloves off, and rode on. A minute later, it ended. There was a pretty well-defined line in the road where you emerged from the sunny waterfall and into dry sunny road. No change in sky, no discernible change in temperature, just a Hollywood-like transition. I looked back in disbelief, but there was not much to see. It should have looked like a waterfall, but it didn’t. The whole episode was less than two minutes. 

Even in warm temperatures, soaking wet clothes are cold. Denim in particular has qualities which allow it to absorb 19.7 times its weight in water, and to simultaneously cool and stiffen. A mesh jacket allows the rain and cold to pass through to the layer against your skin. Brilliant. You try to minimize movement in order to prevent new cold wet areas from touching warm skin. It is futile, particularly on a motorcycle where everything seems to function as a funnel toward the area you would least like to be wet and cold. The fact that it is warm and the air begins to partially dry areas that you are least concerned about being wet and cold, makes it worse. Give me a good solid long-lasting downpour where everything remains soaked. 7.3 miles is a long way in these conditions, but eventually the destination is reached. You slowly climb from the machine as if you are in a full body cast, and quickly liberate yourself from the clothing. 

The /7 sat cool and contented in the garage as if to say,  “What is all the fuss about?”

Two Up Test

Classic Velocity

The rear suspension felt pretty good at the highest position, but there is nothing like a two-up test to see how it performs under load. This also tests the new seat, so off for a concentric circle with a pillion to provide key feedback. It was only a 20 mile loop, but it included typical in town riding, along with about 10 miles of B roads. There was also one section of pretty coarse and bumpy broken pavement. Overall the suspension was good 2 up. It soaked up a fair amount of the normal vibrations, and was good on undulations on the normal roads. 

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100 Magic Miles

Classic Velocity

Consistent with the theory of concentric circles, and with valves at the correct settings, it was time to add some miles. A warm day and a roughly circular route took the /7 through some varied running. B roads were combined with some high speed deserted roads that allowed the bike to get up close to triple digits, and 6k rpms. The machine was flawless. Strong linear acceleration allowed for passing and bursts of speed when required. However, the biggest surprise was the handling. Something about the balance and the wheel size makes this bike phenomenally easy to turn in. It makes it one of the better cornering BMWs I have ever ridden! An enjoyable few hours..

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Valve and Plug Confirmation

Classic Velocity

The left side valves always sounded a bit loud, so I decided to recheck the adjustments on both heads. The left side intake was a bit tight, and so I backed it off a bit. Other than that, they were right on target. I retorqued the adjuster nuts and buttoned everything back up. The spark plugs were textbook color, so they went back in with a bit of anti-seize. 

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Spring Exercise

Classic Velocity

A nice day allowed for a few miles to get the oil up to temperature and to remember what still needs attention on the bike. The seat latch needs some alignment work, and the speedo has stopped working all together. Other than that, the bike runs great and the motor pulls strong across the gears.  

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Stock Seating

Classic Velocity

Despite coming with a very good aftermarket seat by Corbin, the bike just did not look right to us, and the hunt for a stock seat began right away. It did not take long to find one in very good shape, and it was installed right away. It fits the latch a bit better than the Corbin, and restores the hidden storage in the front of the seat. 

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Reliability Trials

Classic Velocity

In keeping with the Classic Velocity Law of Concentric Circles, it was off to get in a few miles and find out about running condition. On an unusually warm November day, the machine made about a 30 mile circle. It meandered along a river road and visited an abandoned bridge. The idea was to test engine and suspension, but also to test stopping and starting multiple times. The /7 passed with flying colors. Acceleration was surprisingly good, although that may have something to do with the aviation gas! Stopping was good, and the bike started easily both cold and hot.

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Handling Hands

Classic Velocity

On most vintage BMWs with the exception of the RT model, I have preferred the shallower bend and lower profile of the Euro bars. They just seem to suit my particular anatomy a bit better, and I think they look better as well. The /5 has them, and they are narrower as well, providing tougher slow speed steering, and sportier feel. In this case, a set of lower bars came from EBay, and a quick 30 minutes got them installed. In the process, I learned that the bars on the bike were not BMW items anyway.

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Slash 7 Discovery

Classic Velocity

As usual, the machine gets a more thorough examination once back in the garage. And as usual, more is discovered. The windshield is removed, and a few areas get a good cleaning. The Corbin seat does not latch well, or stay on the pins, so that is another reason to possibly return to stock. The tool tray is not correct. The rack comes off in order to take a good look at the shocks. They are in fairly good shape. A Ram mount is added, and the windshield comes off. 

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Filling The Gap

Classic Velocity

The years between 1976 and 1980 have never really had a vehicle in the garage. Well...there was the Chevy G10 van, but that does not really count. The car world generally ends for me in 1974 with the introduction of safety bumpers, and the motorcycle world goes to 1976 (BMW R90S) and then skips to 1980 (BMW R80RT). That now ends on the motorcycle front at least, with this R75/7. A whimsical desire has been to get an R75 from each slash era, /5, /6, and /7. This opportunity in the region was for a machine with a lot of the hard work done. The bike and engine had been torn down and checked by an engineer. Crank end play was reportedly spot on, valve seats were good, compression very good. The paint is excellent across all of the body work, and includes hand pinstriping. 

There were a few areas where upgrades or replacements had been made that I may not have done, but which would remain for now. The most visible was Lester wheels. They looked fine, and were a period upgrade, so they will stay. The Dynamic electronic ignition seems to work fine and can contribute to better running. The left handlebar controls are not correct for the year, but are functional, as is the luggage rack which is for an RS or RT model. The Corbin seat is comfortable, but this will not be a touring machine, so a stock seat is in the cards.

overall, a nice find at a good price. Another airhead joins the garage.

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